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“Iran Has Centrifuge Capacity for Nuclear Arms”?



In light of the ominous cast to the coverage of the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General’s most current report about Iran’s nuclear program (see, e.g., "
UN: Iran expands uranium efforts, is blocking monitoring," McClatchy, June 5; and "Iran Has Centrifuge Capacity for Nuclear Arms, Report Says," New York Times, June 6), if we take a look at the IAEA’s previous report (GOV/2009/8), dated February 19, 2009, what do we find?



For starters, we find that as the IAEA has been documenting on a serial basis now for several years, it is non-controversially the case that 100 percent of Iran’s nuclear enrichment programs operate "as declared (i.e. less than 5.0% U-235 enrichment)" (para. 5), and that truly nuclear-weapons-grade fissile material is upwards of or higher than 90%

Additionally, we find:


5. To date, the results of the environmental samples taken at FEP and PFEP5 indicate that the plants have been operating as declared (i.e. less than 5.0% U-235 enrichment).

 

7. The Agency has continued to monitor the use and construction of hot cells at the

Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) and the Molybdenum, Iodine and Xenon Radioisotope Production (MIX) Facility. There have been no indications of ongoing reprocessing related activities at those facilities….

 

12. As of 9 February 2009, approximately 42 tonnes of uranium in the form of UF6 had been produced at the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) since 8 March 2008, the date of the last PIV carried out by the Agency at UCF. This brings the total amount of uranium in the form of UF6 produced at UCF since March 2004 to 357 tonnes, some of which was transferred to FEP and PFEP, and all of which remains under Agency containment and surveillance.

 

18. The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in

Iran….

 

22. Contrary to the decisions of the Security Council,

Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities or its work on heavy water-related projects, including the construction of the heavy water moderated research reactor, IR-40, and the production of fuel for that reactor.

 

 

 

Now.  I do not take seriously the IAEA’s ongoing findings to the effect that

Iran has failed "to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities" (para. 19), and, therefore, that "the Agency [is] not…in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran" (para. 21).

So, in short, we find an Iranian nuclear program.  But most assuredly no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.  And zero relation between Iran‘s centrifuge capacity, on the one hand, and alleged nuclear weapons, on the other.


Turning instead to the IAEA Director General’s current report (
GOV/2009/35), dated June 5, 2009, what do we find? 



 

5. To date, the results of the environmental samples taken at FEP and PFEP indicate that the plants have been operating as declared (i.e. less than 5.0% U-235 enrichment).[5]  Since March 2007, 26 unannounced inspections have been conducted at FEP. Twenty-five of these inspections were successfully implemented. For one inspection, carried out on 19 May 2009, access to the facility was not granted by

Iran within the agreed time because of an ongoing security drill being carried out at the facility by Iran which had been notified in advance to the Agency….

 

  [5] Results are available for samples taken up to 1 February 2009 for FEP and up to 20 April 2008 for PFEP. These results have shown particles of low enriched uranium (with up to 4.4% U-235), natural uranium and depleted uranium (down to 0.4% U-235 enrichment).

6. The Agency has continued to monitor the use and construction of hot cells at the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) and the Molybdenum, Iodine and Xenon Radioisotope Production (MIX) Facility. There have been no indications of ongoing reprocessing related activities at those facilities. While Iran has stated that there have been no reprocessing related R&D activities in Iran, the Agency can confirm this only with respect to these two facilities, as the measures of the Additional Protocol are not available.

 

11. Between 8 and 12 March 2009, the Agency conducted a PIV at the Uranium Conversion Facility. During the PIV,

Iran presented 345 tonnes of uranium in the form of UF6 for Agency verification. The Agency is evaluating the results of the PIV.

 

15.

Iran has informed the Agency that the loading of fuel into the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant is now scheduled to take place in September/October 2009.

 

19. As has been reported in previous reports, the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in

Iran.

 

21.

Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities or its work on heavy water related projects as required by the Security Council.

 

 

 

As I mentioned with respect to the February 19 report, I do not take seriously the IAEA’s ongoing findings to the effect that the "Agency [is] not…in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran" (para. 22 — cf. the crucial opening sentence of para. 5, cited above, as well as note #5, also cited along with it).

 

Contrary to what is being reported about the IAEA Director General’s June 5 report, then, I do not believe that the June 5 report substantially revises any of the findings of previous reports to the detriment of Iran. — As with the February 19 report, the June 5 report gives us an Iranian nuclear program.  But most assuredly no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.  And zero relation between Iran‘s centrifuge capacity, on the one hand, and alleged nuclear weapons, on the other.

 

Thus, headlines and reporting such as that by the New York Times, namely, that Iran "has sped up its production of nuclear fuel and increased its number of installed centrifuges to 7,200 — more than enough, weapon experts said, to make fuel for up to two nuclear weapons a year" ("Iran Has Centrifuge Capacity for Nuclear Arms, Report Says," June 6), I regard as both deliberately provocative and false.

Nor is this fact mitigated in the least by the qualification that The Times adds immediately thereafter: "if the country decided to use its facilities for that purpose" — if, that is, Iran weren’t operating as declared (i.e. less than 5.0% U-235 enrichment), and as verified by the IAEA’s report dated June 5.


Unless and until the New York Times and the vast majority of its cohorts among the Western political establishment and news media can show me otherwise.


  

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1835 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2009/8), February 19, 2009

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1835 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2009/35), June 5, 2009 

"UN: Iran expands uranium efforts, is blocking monitoring," Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy, June 5, 2009
"
Iran Has Centrifuge Capacity for Nuclear Arms, Report Says," William J. Broad and David Sanger, New York Times, June 6, 2009

Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, November, 2007

 

"The Fourth ‘Supreme International Crime’ in Seven Years is Already Underway," Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, Electric Politics, May 16, 2006

"Hegemony and Appeasement: Setting Up the Next Target for the ‘Supreme International Crime’," Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, Electric Politics, January 29, 2007 

"The U.S. Aggression Process and Its Collaborators: From Guatemala (1950-1954) to Iran (2002-)," Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, Electric Politics, November 26, 2007

 

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